Thursday, May 14, 2015

"to love first…"

"And while others think
of reasons not to love,
we love,
because he first loved us..."

I hope you will let Cheri Keaggy's "Because He First Loved Us," touch your heart tonight.

Recently I woke knowing that it was time for a deep shift in my understanding of what it means to love. It felt like a profound un-centering, a need for an adjustment of the mental aperture. As if my oneness with God -- with Love -- was calling for greater clarity, and I was a bit out of focus.

Having felt this kind of invitation to "grow in grace" before, I knew I was standing on holy ground.  I also knew that I  needed to be still -- and listen.  And gratefully, the guidance I was seeking came gently.  I  was reminded of an experience I'd had late one December night when I needed spiritual direction and comfort. 

The memory was clear. I'd been visiting Mary Baker Eddy's last former home and I remembered seeing a framed painting of Jesus in her small bedroom.  I had been moved deeply by the realization that it was his example which she'd turned to for inspiration and encouragement during her own long, dark nights.

On the heels of this memory, came a statement from the book of John:

"We love him,
because he first
loved us."

I knew immediately where the shift in my understanding of Love needed to take place. What followed was a sentence from Mary Baker Eddy's Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:

"The miracle of grace,
is no miracle to love."

Grace, in Webster's Dictionary, is defined as:

"The unearned and unmerited favor of God" 

In an instant the veil over my heart parted, and I could see beyond what I'd long-assumed was "enough" love.

As a child I had experienced things that, I became convinced, were unforgivable. And yet, through long nights of prayer I'd been shown how to forgive.  For years, even the very thought of being free from feeling victimized was unimaginable. And then suddenly, it wasn't.  It was my truth.  And with that freedom came the ultimate surprise -- I felt the will to love. And it was genuine. In a heartbeat, I could love those I'd feared -- something that had seemed unreasonable only moments before. It was more than I could have dreamed, and I was satisfied.

But Love's capacities are infinite, and so must be our capacity to reflect of its fathomless depth. And on that recent morning I woke knowing there was more. But I didn't know how to find it. So I became very still. I asked myself, "what represents the greatest love to you?" And without a second's hesitation, I knew.  It was "trust." To trust, and to feel trusted. 

I'd felt it in my daughters' unquestioning trust that I would always do my best for them. And even more so, I felt it every day as I considered God's trust in me, and my capacity to love and care for His precious children. I have felt it in His mercy when I have fallen short. And in the redemptive power of grace during my darkest moments of self-doubt and fear.

And yet, I had somehow thought that I could actually love, without trusting. Oh yes, I could forgive, and I was even willing to love.  But trust, when I felt that the person in question needed to earn my trust? Unimaginable. I believed that trust was something I could parcel out or withhold. But that day I found myself asking, "Kate, who do you think you are actually you withholding this trust from?" And the answer was -- myself. I was depriving myself of loving fully, extravagantly, unconditionally.

The moment I realized that there could be no real loving without trust, I felt the old boundaries of what I thought was possible shatter around me, and my heart had room to stretch into a new space.  I could love first.

Love loves. It can't be shackled by another person's behavior. Love is not conditional, it doesn't need a reason. Love doesn't wait for the permission of circumstances. Love trusts.  Love completely and unflinchingly trust the absolute sovereignty of Its own irresistible agency working within the fathomless depths of each human heart. Again, I was reminded that:

"The miracle of grace,
is no miracle to Love."

Or to us -- by reflection. Forgiveness is only the first step. But to truly love, we have to trust in the presence and power of Divinity operating as humanity. 

 Jesus taught us how to live this radical kind of trust in countless ways. Mary Baker Eddy says that he "acted boldly against the accredited evidence of the senses." 

 Everything he experienced in his last days, must have screamed that he'd surrounded himself with disciples who were undeserving of his continued faith in their fidelity. Yet he entrusted the future of his beloved ministry to these very men who had -- only days before -- forsaken, doubted, and denied him. It brings into clearer focus for me, Eddy's statement:

"Out of the amplitude
of his pure affection,
he defined love."

Tonight, I am so moved by the way Grace never leaves us self-satisfied and imprisoned within the false boundaries of what we think we are capable of. Love calls us from the chrysalis of where we have become comfortable with "enough," and shows us something we hadn't even imagined was possible. Where once we crawled -- now we stand ready to fly.

offered with Love,


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